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Incidental Pulmonary Nodules Detected on Abdominal Computed Tomography

Wu, Carol C. MD; Cronin, Carmel G. MBBCh, MRCPl; Chu, Julia T. MD; Halpern, Elkan F. PhD; Sahani, Dushyant V. MD; Shepard, Jo-Anne O. MD; Gilman, Matthew D. MD

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: November/December 2012 - Volume 36 - Issue 6 - p 641–645
doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e31826a0de2
Cardiothoracic Imaging

Objectives To review the characteristics and outcome of incidental pulmonary nodules reported on abdominal computed tomography (CT).

Methods A database search of abdominal CTs from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2006, revealed 413 patients with incidental pulmonary nodules and at least one follow-up chest CT. Demographic information, nodule characteristics, and eventual outcome of the nodules were analyzed.

Results Of the 413 patients, 56% had benign nodules, 11% had malignant nodules, and the remaining 33% had insufficient follow-up. There was a statistically significant difference (P < 0.05) in the age of the patients, history of malignancy, and size of the incidental nodule between benign and malignant groups. No malignant nodules were found in patients younger than 59 years who did not have a known or suspected malignancy.

Conclusion Small pulmonary nodules (<8 mm) on abdominal CT in patients younger than 50 years with no history of malignancy are unlikely to be malignant.

From the *Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; †Department of Radiology, Master Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland; and ‡Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California Irvine Medical Center, Irvine, CA.

Received for publication April 30, 2012; accepted June 28, 2012.

Reprints: Carol C. Wu, MD, Department of Radiology, Thoracic Imaging and Intervention, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit St, Founders 202, Boston, MA 02114 (e-mail:

The authors have no relevant disclosures.

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.